Since my teenage years I’ve always liked the idea of making greener choices, but to be honest until recently my efforts had not really progressed much further than recycling, turning off the heating and using energy saving light bulbs.
However, over the last few years I have found myself feeling more and more convicted to take God’s call to care for creation more seriously and this has become a real priority for us as a family, so much so that we made caring for creation part of our family purpose statement.
When I was pregnant with Libby, the Husby and I knew we wanted to make an effort to raise our baby in a more eco-friendly way. We want to pass on our green values and love of the natural world to our daughter, so introducing her to a greener lifestyle early on seems the best way to do it.
As The Eco-nomical Baby Guide explains, it’s important to remember that there are various shades of green and that green living will look differently to different people. We are gladly trying to go more green and I delight in each step we take to a more sufficient life, however we know that there is still room for improvement.
Let me share with you the 5 main things that have helped us in our eco-baby efforts this past year, as well as the 5 ways we could have gone a bit greener.
Our Top 5 Eco-Baby Efforts
1. Reusing & Recycling
Buying used items is one of the best ways to go green. Many of the bigger baby items we now own – the cot, pram, car seat, rocking chair – were actually passed on from generous friends and family or bought second hand. Not only has this saved us tons of money, it has also saved many of these perfectly good items from going to landfill prematurely.
My reasons for choosing to breastfeed were much more to do with the benefits of bonding and nutrition for my baba, along with the convenience and money that we would save. However, I now realise that breastfeeding was also an incredibly green option as it required no equipment or energy consumption and we haven’t had to send dozens of formula containers to landfill.
3. Cloth Nappies
Using cloth nappies has perhaps been the biggest way we have protected the planet. Not only have we saved thousands of disposable nappies, wipes and bio-hazardous waste from going to landfill, we have saved ourselves about £1000+ in the process. The savings will then be even bigger when we use these same nappies on future babies – totally worth the initial £250 we spent on getting a brand new (and cute!) set!
4. Avoiding Plastic
It would be near on impossible in this day and age to go completely plastic free, however avoiding plastic wherever you can is a great way to go green. This is why we opted for a wooden highchair and have decided to buy natural toys made of wood, metal and fabric as much as possible. Reducing the amount of plastic in our home means we will have less non biodegradable toys and equipment to send to landfill and are able to reduce Libby’s exposure to some of the harmful toxins that can be found in plastic toys.
5. Going Veggie
Like breastfeeding, our reasons for choosing to raise Libby on a vegetarian diet are much more to do with the health benefits that a nutritious vegetarian diet has to offer. A drastic measure perhaps, but a non-carnivorous lifestyle has huge benefits for both the planet and it’s people. As explained by Energy Saving Secrets, ‘if people converted to a vegetarian diet, land could be used far more efficiently and effectively, and it would prevent a lot of people starving across the world.’
5 Ways We Could Have Gone Greener…
1. We could have bought cloth nappies made from natural materials like hemp or organic cotton. Our set are made from man-made microfibre, which is not as eco-friendly to make. We could have also bought our nappies second hand, however as we plan to use the nappies on subsequent babies and pass or sell these on after, we felt buying new was a good investment.
2. We could have started using cloth nappies and wipes sooner. We started using cloth nappies full-time when Libby was 3 months old and didn’t clue on to the the benefits of washable wipes until much later! We thought waiting until 3 months to start using cloth nappies would give ourselves some time to settle into the demands of parenting, however once we started using them we realised they weren’t difficult to master at all and we could have saved both the planet and our money much sooner if we had just started from birth.
3. I could have invested in an organic cot mattress and organic cotton sheets. I did not know that conventional mattresses are made from foam, vinyl and several by-products of petroleum! These are harmful to the environment during production and not exactly the healthiest option for baby either. This is something I am considering upgrading to in the future as babies spend about 16 hours a day lying in their cots. I would then recycle the old cot mattress by using it as a reading nook cushion.
4. We could have invested in an all-in-one car seat. These are relatively new to the market, hence why I didn’t even consider one – I didn’t know they existed! There is no way of avoiding the hunk of plastic that is needed for the safety and protection of an infant car seat, but sending just the one car seat to landfill, would be preferable to sending potentially two, three or four!
5. We could have bought a simple stroller instead of a travel system. Although we bought our travel system second hand, which is a very eco-friendly way to buy, it is a huge chunk of plastic! A Maclaren stroller, suitable from birth and made mainly of metal and fabric would have been the greenest (and lightest!) option. This is something we will likely invest in next time round.
So why go green? Especially at a time when life is busy enough with a tiny baby to care for! As the above quote says, it’s ‘just good economics’ and I can honestly say our eco-baby efforts have totally been worth it.